In a sci-fi movie “Martian” an astranaut left on the Mars all alone tries to survive in any possible ways. It is especially curious how he produces water and grows potatoes – but actually something like this had already been done by Soviet scientists fifty years ago. Working on prototypes of future bases on the Moon and other planets, they managed to create closed systems that independently produced air, water and even food for participants of the experiment.
In the 60-70s at the order of a world-known scientist Sergey Korolev they made a prototype of a space station where people could live for months without obtaining water, air and food from outside. That result has never been repeated by anyone since then.
How did it all happen? They built a hermetic bunker in Krasnoyarsk to lodge participants of the experiment. They could take only a bit of water, some oxygen and food. Everything had to be provided by the system itself. In fact it was like settling on the Moon or Mars. The projects were called BIOS-1 and BIOS-2.
The scientists from Krasnoyarsk were breathing the air produced by the plants growing in the bunker. The water was purified inside the system, too. The food of the participants mainly consisted from veggies planted inside. Those experiments, lasting from 1964 to the late 1980s, were more than successful – people could live and work in those conditions with no any harm to their health. The longest experiment in the bunker lasted 180 days, as for food – they achieved 100% of the system self-sustainment then, as for water – the result was 95%.
BIOS-3 was intended to imitate an extraterrestrial human settlement where consumed air, water and partially food are restored. The fully hermetic station had metal walls whose area was 140 m2, height- 2,5 m. The bunker was divided into four equal compartments: a living one and three with plants and algae. The station cost 1 million Soviet rubles – today it would be 200 million rubles, it was intended for six participants to live there for a year.
Participants of a 3-months experiment in BIOS-3.
Vladislav Tverskikh was the only participant to be in the experiment from A to Z. Other researchers were changing as only three persons could be accomodated in BIOS-3. The remaining three on the photo were in the experiment for two months.
Trying to contact the researchers in BIOS-3, 1973.
Vladislav Tverskikh during a medical examination.
Picking veggies for dinner.
Going to sleep.
Nikolay Petrov – one of the participants.
Real wheat was growing in the bunker.
Warmhouse in the bunker.
The unit of medical and biological parameters control.
They even had a special mill to process the wheat.
Turning grains into flour.
They were baking bread in the station.
Heads of the experiment at the control unit.
Celebrating the 180th day of the experiment.
Biophysics department of the institute in Krasnoyarsk – presenatation of BIOS-3 station to academician Mikhail Lavrentyev.
Yuly Okladnikov – one of the heads of the experiment.
Joseph Gitelzon – one of the heads of the experiment on its final day.
The department of biophysics – experimental unit “Kulon” for growing inferior and higher plants in the conditions of a space flight.
In the late 1980s the financing of the project was practically cut off. There was an international attempt to resume it in 1992, but Russia didn’t find money to participate. But that experience in Krasnoyarsk was not lost anyway, further interest was shown by the Chinese and European scientists. Russia seems to have found financial sources too, so maybe it will show more successful results in future.